Baby Artichokes vs. Regular Artichokes
Do baby artichokes and regular-size artichokes cook the same way?
In the United States, small or “baby” artichokes aren’t really immature artichokes (unlike in Europe, where artichokes are often harvested while they’re small and haven’t fully matured). These minute versions actually grow on the same plants as regular artichokes; they just grow low on the stalk—below the larger artichokes—where they receive less sun and, as such, never reach more than 2 to 4 ounces (about the size of a chicken egg).
Unlike larger artichokes, the edible areas of which include only the heart, trimmed stem, and the meaty base of the tough leaves that must be scraped off with your teeth, baby artichokes never develop the fuzzy choke that must be removed from large artichokes, so they’re easier to prepare with less waste.
Like the adult version, though, baby artichokes must be trimmed before being cooked. To trim baby artichokes, cut off the top quarter and snap off the fibrous outer leaves until you reach the yellow leaves. Then use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to trim the dark green exterior from the base of the artichoke, the exterior of the stem, and the stem’s tough bottom. Don’t forget to keep the trimmed artichokes in a bowl of acidulated water while you prepare the rest; the acid in the water will help neutralize the enzymes that cause the artichokes to oxidize and turn brown.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Baby artichokes don’t have the inedible choke you find in larger artichokes, but they do take some prep.